The signs are subtle at first. You walk out in the morning and the light isn’t quite as bright; the sun seems a little … behind, like it forgot to set its alarm clock. And that after dinner walk in the evening? You’re getting closer and closer to finishing in the dark.
Let’s face it, hiking is pretty swell no matter the season in North Carolina. But it’s hands-down the swellest in fall. Cooling temperatures, drier air, fall color — all combine to make this the best of seasons. Here’s our lineup for Fall 2021.
Already, it is August — mid-August, to be accurate — and the days of summer are waning. If you’re not a friend of hot weather, this comes as good news. But if you like the heat and feel you haven’t taken full advantage of the season, this realization could bum you out. Don’t let it.
On Tuesday evening’s hike, I overheard a new hiker ask a veteran, “Someone told me you do this series in the winter — in the dark? Is that true?”
Indeed it is, replied the veteran of our winter weekly Tuesday night campaigns. She went on to explain why you would hike at night, in winter, essentially boiling it down to two factors: First, the practical: for most of us, if you want to get in a mid-week hike when all the daylight hours are consumed by work you have little choice but to hike in the dark. And two: it’s a good time. “It’s just a different experience hiking in the dark. It’s fun!”
Whooo, baby! We’re looking at our first 90-degree weekend of the year. And you had your heart set on taking a hike.
No need to cancel your plans. You just need to alter them a wee bit.
From our GetHiking! Guide to Summer Hiking, a bit of advice:
- Dress appropriately. Button-up fishing and hiking shirts typically have vents and mesh that do a good job of keeping your torso from building up head. Shorts are good, but there are also inexpensive lightweight nylon pants that protect your legs without keeping in the heat.
- Hydrate. Always important, especially in heat. Increase your desire to drink by packing cold water, either by filling a water bottle three-quarters full the night before, freezing it and topping it off with cold water before the hike, or by loading a bladder with ice, then filling in the nooks and crannies with cold water.
- Hike early. The coolest part of the day. This weekend, the temperatures shortly after sunrise should be in the low 60s.
- Hike late. Temperatures typically peak late afternoon, then drop as the sun does. By 6:30 p.m. you should be down 10 degrees from the day’s high, and you’ll benefit from a continually dropping thermostat.
- Choose a heat-resistant trail. How, you ask? Look for trails with:
- Higher elevations. The temperature drops roughly 3 degrees for every 1,000 feet of elevation.
- Near water. Trails along creeks or around lakes are especially good. If you start to overheat, kick off your boots and wade in.
- Look for a northern exposure. Trails that spend most of their time on a northern exposure, away from direct sunlight, tend to be cooler.
Not sure you want to do that much research? Worry not. We have some recommendations.